Obozrevatel and others report that President Yushchenko will soon be getting a 'new toy' - a brand-new Airbus A319 presidential airplane priced $40-$60 million, even though only about half that sum had been ear-marked for upgrading the president's flight.
Until now Yushchenko has been using an Ukrainian-built 2004 Antonov, registration UR-YVA, [Yushchenko Viktor Andriyevych - cheesy eh?] or one of two Illushins.
Oboz quite-rightly insists the pres. should exclusively promote and use home-built planes, which are as good any in the world. This is no way for the pres. to gain support in Kharkiv - home of Antonov aircraft, or Zaporizhzha where Motor Sich, one of the world's largest manufacturers of aircraft engines and turbines is located..
Just for comparison, I've clipped the following excerpts from Wikipedia's entry on 'Air transport of the Royal Family and executive of the United Kingdom'.
"Air transport for the Royal Family and executive of the United Kingdom is currently provided by No. 32 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF); chartered civilian aircraft; and occasionally scheduled commercial flights, provided by the company British Airways.
No. 32 Squadron's executive transport role is secondary to its principal function of providing communications and logistical support for military operations.... Given the security concerns of chartering commercial aircraft and the fact that the aircraft are increasingly unsuitable to an executive transport role, the government plans to acquire two dedicated executive transports for the use of the Royal Family and executive ...Current travel options for the Royal Family and Ministers are aircraft of No. 32 Squadron, scheduled commercial flights and chartered aircraft.
Most air travel by cabinet and junior ministers is on scheduled commercial flights. Travel on 32 Squadron aircraft is recommended where it is more cost-effective than using commercial air transport, or where security considerations dictate that special flights should be used.
UK parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has [recently] recommended two dedicated aircraft with secure, advanced communication equipment be provided for the use of the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence...The new aircraft should include state of the art security systems [on account of the greatly increased risk of terrorist attack]. To reduce costs, the planes will not be purchased outright, but will be on permanent lease."
LEvko thinks the pres. should get his head out of the clouds and his feet back on the ground - and think more about Ukrainian aircraft engineers and designers. They will be around much longer than he will be as president..
p.s. Former British prime minister Tony Blair left office a few months ago. Under ministerial rules he is allowed to take home any gift he received, as PM, worth more than $280, if he paid the full market price from his own pocket. E.g. he kept a 12-piece tea and coffee set given by President Vladimir Putin, for which he paid $600, and paid $1000 for a fountain pen given to him by Chirac.
The rest of the 'crap' e.g 20 watches, including 16 given by Silvio Berlusconi, oriental rugs etc. are to be auctioned, and the proceeds donated to charity. The sale is expected to raise about $300,000.
Bit different than Ukraine eh?